Random Moment Generator

Walking to the train this morning, I saw a young-ish Black man in a parka outside the dollar store. His hood was up against tye wind, and he was hunched over trying to light his cigarette. He looked up and looked me in the eye then went back to his task. At the curb was a man half in the backseat of his car, putting his child in a safety seat. As I approached, the cigarette man stood straight and pointed toward the car. 

“Miss! You see him, Miss? He’s a good dude. He’s a father taking care of his kid.”

I looked over at the car then nodded at the cigarette man. “Alright,” I said. And the man nodded and gave me a Black Power salute. I kept walking to the station.

So first, let’s address how pleased my vanity was by that “Miss.” These days, if anyone’s bothering to give me an honorific, it’s “Ma’am.” And there’s nothing wrong with that … except that it makes me feel like Methuselah’s older sister. So “Miss” felt like a kind nod to my long-past youth, and I liked it.

Second, that Black Power salute. It charmed and amused me. This was hardly a situation in which I’d have expected such a thing to happen. It was so unexpected, it kind of lit the moment up for me. I know there is still a lingering belief that a Black woman with natural hair must be all about the struggle or some such. I’m not saying I’m not, but those leanings aren’t determined or identifiable by my hair, and I wasn’t expecting the nod to that possible common cause in that exact moment. 

But then to the meat of the matter. What was that? It was interesting, and even cute, but … what? Why point out the man putting his kid in the car? Why draw a stranger’s attention to this pretty regular thing? 

I like random things, generally speaking. I particularly like random pleasant moments with strangers on the street. Those moments fall into the category of things I love about living in my city (and are cross-posted under “things I like about interacting with strangers in any city”). I have a lot of these moments. A lot. My sister would say that it’s because of my face, that my face tells people that I will respond if they talk to me. I don’t know if that’s always so true these days, but I guess it’s true enough given how often strangers talk to me. My face is a random moment generator, sparking curious encounters everywhere it goes.

This particular encounter was more random than usual. A good dude, indeed. Had me smiling and shaking my head all the way downtown. 

It’s the 16th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

A Little Bit of New

A coworker’s daughter is a Girl Scout, and for the last few years, I’ve bought a few boxes from her. I’ve been a GS Cookie fan for … seemingly my whole life. It used to be Thin Mints only, but I feel for the Tagalongs when they were added to the mix. And then Lemon Ups came along and I had to scale back on the others so I could add their lemon-frosted shortbread goodness to the lineup.

This year, the Scouts have a new cookie: the Raspberry Rally. (Who thinks of these names? I have questions.) The Rally is, apparently, made in the Thin Mint model. It’s a raspberry cookie that’s coated in chocolate. I don’t know if it’s something I’d like — though my colleague said she got to do a taste test and thought it was delicious — but I was curious and thought I’d order a box.

But no! The Raspberry Rallies are already sold out! WHAT?! Sales only just started. I call foul. Sigh.

I buy from my coworker’s little girl, and I buy a couple of boxes from Troop 6000, the troop that was created for girls living in the New York City shelter system. I’ve never lived in a shelter. I taught a GED class in a family shelter more than half my life ago, though, and Troop 6000 made me think about the daughters of my students.

Troop 6000 offers weekly meetings across the city. Girls get uniforms, materials, and trips for free and can remain in the group if they change shelters. There’s now also a Troop 6000 Transition Initiative that works with families as they move into permanent housing. My students’ daughters would have benefitted from an opportunity like the ones Troop 6000 creates. Do the Boy Scouts have a Troop 6000? A quick Google search says no, but I hope that’s not true. Little boys in the shelter system need consistency and carefree camaraderie, too.

Full disclosure: I never wanted to be a Girl Scout. I very specifically didn’t want to be a Girl Scout. I was deep in my feelings about it, adamant that I wouldn’t join a group that required me to be called a Brownie. Yes, at eight or nine years old, I put my foot down about it. Would not join. So silly, really, but my mother worked with my silliness. She founded a troop of Campfire Girls so I could still experience the badge-earning joys of group membership.

This morning, I went online to place my Troop 6000 order … and found Raspberry Rallies in stock! So now I have two cookie orders on the way: my Mint-Tag-Lemon order and a new Lemon-Raspberry order. (Yes, doubling up on the Lemon Ups. They’re just so good with coffee.)

It’s Day One the 16th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
(I can’t believe this is my 16th year of slicing!)
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot


I’m in Alaska at my writing residency. It’s lovely here, and I feel extraordinarily lucky to be here. My tourist day in town — the day before I came up to the residency itself — was studded with random moments when I’d be walking around and suddenly “Thank you,” would just bubble out of me. Out loud. Literally just saying it aloud as I walked on the beach, as I stood in the museum, as I sipped mead, as I stared up at the mountains. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve never had gratitude burst out of me before. It’s a curious feeling. I’d like to experience it some more!

I’m here to write. I’m here, most specifically, to work on “Fat Talk” essays. I am determined to shape that series into a collection. And, while I haven’t been away from the project for long, I kind of have, too. I did some writing in November, but never cleaned it up and posted it. I’ve been thinking about the project, but haven’t gotten any words on paper.

So these two weeks are time to pull this project back to the front of my brain and see what’s what.

And that’s hard and stressful because a lot of what I want to write about it hard and stressful. Having to put into words the ways in which I have been mistreated is hard. Having to put into words the ways in which I have mistreated myself is harder. It’s good to be here to do this. To have time and silence to push through the rough pieces. To have a group of writers to sit with at dinner and feel embraced and heard. This. THis is why “thank you” just kept bubbling out of me on Saturday. The understanding and anticipation of the gift of this

I came up a day early so that I could recover from a 20-hour travel day and play tourist in Homer for a minute. I wish I could have come up a full week early. I enjoyed my day of wandering in the cold and rain, however. I was exhausted — arrived at 7:30 in the morning but couldn’t check into the hotel until 5, so I had to stay awake and do something all day. And I did. Walked on the beach, stared at the mountains, had a really good omelet, went to the very excellent and inspiring Pratt Museum — if you’re going to be in Homer, for-sure visit the Pratt. It’s small and lovely. After the museum, I walked over to the Sweetgale Meadworks to try mead for the first time. I sampled all the meads ( 😉 ) and even got pics of a visiting moose before it was time to head to the hotel. On the drive to the hotel, we passed a coffee klatch of bald eagles — six of them just hanging out on the beach. And then I discovered that I’m not too early for late daylight! I thought I’d miss the whole midnight sun extravaganza … and I will, but the sun sets after 10pm right now, so daylight just goes on and on. It’s magical.

Here are some pics from the last few days:

My first good look at Kachemak Bay, taken from the back deck of the hotel where I stayed the first night.
The flights of meads I sampled. The flight on the left had my favorites: Sweetgale, Nagoonberry, and Wildflower.
One of the two moose who came by the meadery as I was sipping mead.
The view from my hotel room … at about 9pm. Crazypants that it was still this bright out!
Hanging out at the Salty Dawg Saloon before heading out to the residency. (That Stella Cidre was good stuff!)
A piece of the view from my cabin window here at the residency. That’s Cook Inlet.
Running away to write. 10/10 highly recommend
A mated pair of Sandhill Cranes who were hanging around outside the main house when I walked up for breakfast yesterday.

And now it’s time to get back to work! ❤

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
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Count Down to Fabulousness

I am in the countdown to my next writing residency. It’s still a bit of a lengthy countdown, but it’s closer and more exciting to me every day. I am thrilled to be part of the 2022 Storyknife cohort. Storyknife, a residency for women writers, is in Homer, Alaska, and I’ll have two weeks there. Two weeks to breathe, to dream, to test, to release. And yes, to write.

This will be my second formal writing retreat — the kind you have to apply for and be accepted into. I’ve given myself a few DIY retreats, and they have been wonderful, but there’s something different about a residency.

One of the best things about a residency is being around the other residents. Storyknife is for writers. My first residency was for artists of all types. There were five of us — two painters, a photographer, a poet, and me (I was there to work on my comics). There can, of course, be differences in genre among a group of writers. Working alone in my room while being surrounded by people focused on their work has a kind of magic. Coming together over meals and sharing whatever’s been swirling in our heads all day is another kind of magic. My DIY retreats have all been great, but I was alone for all but one of them, so that working-alone-but-in-creative-company aspect was missing.

So looking forward to my two weeks. I wish it could be longer, but two weeks is how long I can reasonably run away from my job. In the case of this particular residency, I wish I could take an additional week just to be in Homer, just to be in Alaska. I’ve never been and have always wanted to go. I’ve added a couple of days to the start of my trip so I can be a tourist (wildlife sightseeing boat tour, here I come!), and I’m hoping the temperature will be my friend and I’ll get to write outside a little during my stay.

Here’s a lovely video about the idea and experience of Storyknife. In it, Executive Director, Erin Coughlin Hollowell, says, “Women’s stories will change the way our society works.” Whew! The way that statement reverberated in my head and heart!

I’m receiving a lot of YES about my writing lately. That’s a good feeling … and a feeling akin to having a gauntlet thrown down in front of me: here it is, the thing I’ve said I wanted and needed. What am I going to do with it? I’ve written about how I can’t resist a challenge, and a residency is a kind of challenge I want to welcome again and again and again. What will I do with it? We’re all going to have to wait and see!

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!
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Original Slicer - GirlGriot

Better than a message from our sponsors …

My city has been producing an evolving series of PSAs starring the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. And now, the Deputy Commissioner as well. They’re all about Covid and how to protect and care for ourselves and others, how to take on this fight together as one big family in this city.

When I first started seeing the PSAs a couple of months ago (interrupting my very important binge-watching on ParamountPlus), I thought they were silly. Did I really need messages from the amiable and nerdy, soft-spoken Dr. Chokshi? Turns out, yes. Yes, I did. Not because I was learning new information but because Chokshi and now his Deputy Commissioner, Dr. Morse, are so grounding and reassuring. There is something gentle and confident and comforting about both of them.

And, too, I did learn something from Dr. Dave (he calls himself this, I’m not being overly casual). In one of his newer PSAs, he reviews the three kinds of masks recommended to keep us Omicron-safe … which is how I learned (FINALLY!) the name of the mask I’ve been wanting to try: the Kf94. I’ve been seeing people wearing these masks (they’re quite common), but every time I ask someone what it’s called, they’ve told me it’s a KN95 … which is a totally different mask.

So, I’ve just ordered a batch of these “fish mouth” masks (does anyone really call them that?!), and I’m hopeful that they’ll work better for me than the N95s and KN95s I’ve struggled with.

I will now acknowledge that I love these tiny PSAs, these quick hits of health info. Love them. Dr. Dave and Dr. Michelle are pleasing the mess out of me. I would love to know whose idea these spots were. Who looked at Dr. Chokshi and said: yes, this guy is exactly who the city needs to hear from during commercial breaks. I’d like to shake that person’s hand and commend their cleverness. Dr. Chokshi is a hit, and now so is Dr. Morse. They’re a one-two punch of public health help.


And yes, there’s more to the fabulousness of these PSAs than the Covid messages that are being given. Both the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner are BIPOC. Both appear on camera in lab coats with their names embroidered over the breast pocket. And I can’t help but think about the power of that image, the power of seeing this brown man and Black woman standing and delivering, representing the formal administration of health and safety for this city full of brown and Black people.

There’s always someone who questions how much representation matters, who questions whether it matters at all. I’m not here to argue nonsensical questions. It matters. Full stop. These PSAs are plentiful, and they’re quick, tossed into the sea of ads that fill in the spaces between segments of our chosen programming. Seeing Doctors Chokshi and Morse over and over in their quiet minute-long spots is sending an even quieter message, one that I am definitely here for.


I am making myself laugh, seeing how into these PSAs I am … and now I’m even more into them because I’ve just seen a new one that features the First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer at DOHMH, Dr. Torian Easterling. Dr. Easterling is a big, Black man with a resonant, calmingly authoritative voice. He’s also someone I met back when I worked in the Mayor’s Office and whom I’ve liked and admired for years.

These PSAs are exactly what I needed right now. I wish I could also believe they will be the magic bullet that will help turn the tide here, bump up our vax percentage and get the unmasked to straighten up and fly right. I don’t see that happening as a result of gentle PSAs, but a girl can dream.

In the meantime, I’m just enjoying seeing “the city’s doctor” encourage sanity and compassion. Thanks, Dr. Dave!

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot